FAQs

Can a chiropractor harm your throat?

Anything is possible when you are actually touching the body. However, this would be very unusual. If you think something your chiropractor did harm your throat in some way, you should talk to them. Most nerves that innervate the throat come from the head, but some come from the neck. There is a small chance that nerve irritation has something to do with it, but I would need more information about what happened. Talk to your chiropractor about your symptoms and whether it was and unintended effect from the treatment or not, they can probably help to resolve the issue.

Can a chiropractor correct rounded shoulders?

Chiropractic adjustments help to improve your posture, but if you're in the habit of letting your shoulders round forward, they will continue to do so. Ask if the chiropractor provides any patient education/home exercises to help improve your posture and the functionality of your joints and muscles. I give my patients exercises and other things to practice on their own, which really help make more permanent changes to their posture when added to my adjustments and other treatments.

How often should I see a chiropractor for hip pain?

There is no simple answer for how often you need to see your chiropractor. A lot depends on your specific issue and your response to treatment. One thing I have noticed in my practice, however, is that the patients who come in more frequently, improve more quickly than those who come in less. Often, I will recommend a frequent visit schedule in the beginning stages of treatment, say 3 times per week for instance, and then reduce the frequency as the patient improves (2 times per week, 1 time per week, every other week, and so on). Whatever the recommendation, it is nearly always beneficial to be treated more in the beginning, because symptoms return more quickly in the initial stages of treatment. For example: let's say you come to see me for hip pain. I assess you and find that what you are experiencing as hip pain is actually referred pain from your SI (sacroiliac) joint, a common condition. This joint is in your low back, between the sacrum (the large triangular bone at the base of the spine) and the ilium (the part of the bony pelvis commonly called the hip). I provide treatment (chiropractic adjustments and possibly some soft tissue work) and your pain is relieved. You leave my office feeling better, but 2 to 24 hours later, that same pain returns and may even feel a little worse now. You get frustrated, but decide to return for more treatment in one week. You suffer through another agonizing week in pain and then return. I treat the same area and again you feel better. You walk out without pain, but in a day or 2, it comes back. You get upset and say to yourself, "This chiropractic stuff doesn't work! It only lasts a short time and then the pain comes right back!" But the issue is that you haven't given it enough time or enough treatment. You can't tell that the symptoms are staying away longer after each treatment, because you have only been treated 2 times in 2 weeks. Now let's look at another example: The scenario is the same, except that this time you believe me when I say that you should come in 3 times a week for 2 weeks. Again, after the first visit, you leave feeling better but have the return of pain in 2 - 24 hours. However, this time you return within 48 hours for your follow-up treatment. This time, after the second treatment, you leave with no pain and stay that way for 2 days. You notice some pain return the afternoon before your third treatment, but it isn't too bad and after your treatment, you feel great again. Your fourth visit is after a weekend and you are feeling some pain that morning, but again, the treatment takes care of it. Your other two visits that week you are pain-free and I recommend 2 visits a week for the 2 following weeks. This time, after 2 weeks, you are totally out of pain. You may think you are done but stick with it. The pain may return if you discontinue your care at this time. The absence of pain doesn't necessarily mean that your problem is fully resolved. In both of these scenarios, the problem was the same, the treatment was the same, and the response to the treatment was the same. The only thing that was different was the frequency. Your body is constantly adjusting and adapting to your environment (inside and out). It needs time to fully "adapt" or respond to the treatment you receive. It took some time for your pain to start and to build up to where you felt that you needed to get some help for it. It would not be realistic to assume that the issue(s) would fully resolve with one treatment. Now, I do sometimes have patients who respond much better to treatment than average. They might, for example, have no pain after the first treatment and none returns later. After the first week, I may suggest 2 visits for the following week, then one visit the week after, and then try going two weeks for the next. We’re all different and our treatment plans should be adaptable too. Discuss your situation with your chiropractor. Ask them what their treatment plan is for you. If you’re unsure, ask them why they feel that is the best course of care for you. Then, *trust them to do their job* and help your body to not only feel better but to heal and function better too.

Do chiropractors treat muscle pain?

Yes, chiropractic adjustments relieve tension in the joints, thereby allowing muscles to relax and alleviating muscle pain. Now, the type of practice from one chiropractor to another varies quite a bit. Therefore, some chiropractors do things that other chiropractors do not. Some only adjust the joints of the spine, while others adjust the joints of the extremities as well. Some only do adjustments, while others use physio-therapies such as electrical muscle stimulation, which can help relax muscles and reduce inflammation (another common cause of the pain). Some chiropractors incorporate massage or other soft tissue techniques, along with their other treatments, which can also be very helpful. I recommend that you ask whether they do extremity adjusting, use physiotherapy modalities, and/or massage techniques when you call to make an appointment. While the spinal adjustments will help a great deal, I believe you will see more improvement, more quickly if other techniques are also utilized.

Can you get paralyzed from a chiropractor?

This is a very common concern. Many people hear "neck adjustment" and think it's going to be like in the "Rambo" movies. First, let me assure you that the whole "twist the neck and the person die" thing, is purely Hollywood. You would have to generate a crazy amount of force with your arms for that to happen. Most chiropractic adjustments are high velocity (done quickly), but low amplitude (not a lot of force). I say most, because there will, of course, be those chiropractors who just use too much force, but these are not the norm. You should address your concern with your chiropractor, let them know you've not been adjusted before and that you would like them to go light at first. If they're a good doctor, they will listen to you and help resolve your concerns. If they don't seem to want to listen or you feel uncomfortable about having them adjust you, it is your right to say no. You can then look for another chiropractor with who you feel more comfortable and more confident. Like with any medical treatment, there are risks involved. You may feel sore afterward (usually only last a short time if that happens). In rare instances, muscle strains or ligament sprains have occurred. In even rarer instances, disc protrusions or vertebral artery damage has been discovered after an adjustment. I say it that way because it is unknown whether these conditions existed prior to the adjustment, only that the symptoms presented afterward. These are exceedingly rare occurrences and most people experience quite the opposite. They feel better after being adjusted. They have better motion in their joints, less stiffness, less pain, and they often report feeling "lighter." It is very unlikely for a chiropractic adjustment to cause paralysis. If you want a non-chiropractic opinion, check out what the Mayo Clinic's website says about the risks.

Can I get adjusted without an underlying condition?

Chiropractic care can be quite effective for pain relief but has many more benefits from a wellness perspective. Improving the motion of your spinal joints helps you move better, relieves strain on the muscle, and improves the conduction of your nervous system. Being adjusted by a competent doctor of chiropractic can only be beneficial to you. I recommend that my pain-free patients come in on a monthly basis. Absolutely try it and see what you think. As with any type of professional, find a chiropractor that you feel comfortable with.

What is the difference between an osteopathic
physician and chiropractor?

Osteopathy and chiropractic started out as quite similar disciplines. In fact, A.T. Stills (known as the Father of Osteopathy) and D.D. Palmer (known as the Father of Chiropractic) were contemporaries and knew each other. Some claim that one stole their ideas from the other (and the debate goes both ways), but there is not really any proof on either side. However, OMT (Osteopathic Manipulative Therapy) and chiropractic adjustments (also known as CMT - Chiropractic Manipulative Therapy) are very similar. There are differences in technique, but both, at their core, involve taking a joint (spinal or other joints) to the end of its range of motion and then delivering a high velocity, low amplitude thrust to gap the joint space and improve its function and remove tension. That being said, the osteopathic profession was kind of absorbed into mainstream medicine many years ago. The upshot of that change is that MD (Medical Doctor) and DO (Doctor of Osteopathy) are basically synonyms today. Those who graduate from an Osteopathic school with a DO degree, do a residency just like MDs and then they can work anywhere in medicine. Some work in a hospital ER, some are pediatricians, some are surgeons, some are OBGYNs, etc. They are still all taught OMT in school (it is a requirement if you go to an Osteopathic school), but most never really use it in practice. There are some who do, but they are the exception. (I have a couple of good friends who have been through DO school, which is where my information comes from.) The opposite is true in chiropractic. The adjustment is still the mainstay of chiropractic treatment today. Some DCs (Doctor of Chiropractic) use physiotherapy modalities (like electrical muscle stimulation, ultrasound therapy, etc.) and soft tissue modalities (such as massage or IASTM - Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization) alongside CMT, but almost all DCs use adjustments with all (or nearly all) of their patients. There are some DCs who don't do the adjusting, but they are the exception. (I am a chiropractor who adjusts basically every patient, which is why I know about this.) So, unless you are able to find a DO who uses OMT as an integral part of their practice, they are probably not going to be very good at it, if they do it at all. Whichever you choose, I recommend that you go to a practitioner who does their particular manipulative treatment with almost all of their patients day in and day out. That way you receive the benefit of all that experience.

My son hurt his back in a football game. Is surgery or
chiropractic care best for him?

Disc herniation is a serious condition, but it is also seriously misunderstood. The first thing you need to know is that you can't see a disc herniation on a standard x-ray. The discs actually do not show up at all. What you can see on the X-ray is that there is less disc height than there should be. This can indicate that the disc is herniated, but it can also simply mean that the discs are compressed. CT scan or MRI can be used to actually visualize the discs and determine for certain if they are bulging, how much, and in what direction. The second thing you should know is that research shows that 70% of people who did not have any back pain showed lumbar disc herniation on MRI. This means that just because your disc is bulging, doesn't mean that it is causing you pain. This also means that if you have pain, it may not be caused by the disc herniation, it may be caused by something else. Third, spinal surgeries as a whole, are only about 25%-35% "successful." Meaning that 65%-75% of those who have some type of spinal surgery still have pain after the surgery. Although certain types of spinal surgery have higher success rates than this, it is a pretty big risk for something that may not even help. With this background in mind, my answer to your question is: why not consider both? Chiropractic care is excellent at treating most types of back pain. Unlike surgery, it is non-invasive. I recommend that you find a competent Doctor of Chiropractic and see how much conservative care can help. Your son is young and his body will heal quickly. If for some reason he doesn't respond to treatment and his condition does not improve, you can always elect to have surgery at that point. The costs are comparatively small and your son will be no worse off for having tried it. I personally, would refer my patient to an orthopedic surgeon if they were not improving, or were getting worse, after a reasonable amount of treatment. However, you do need to give it a chance. Don't assume that he is going to be "all better" after a visit or two. It may take many treatments, depending on his condition.

I have a dull pain in my lower back. How can I treat it?

One of the most important things you can learn to do is to listen to your body. When you have pain, your body is telling you that there is something wrong. Continuing to do things that are causing you pain and hoping that the pain will just go away is not a good idea. Pain can be present for a variety of reasons. If the pain is only brought on by physical exertion, such as exercise, first try taking it down a notch. If you are starting a new exercise program, your body might just not be ready for that level of activity yet. Slow down to a more moderate level and see if the pain improves or goes away. If it does, you may need to just take things at a more moderate level until you build up the strength for more. However, sometimes the exercise or activity only makes us aware of an existing problem, such as joint restrictions in the spine or an imbalance in the pelvis. You may have adhesion in the muscles you are unaware of or muscles that are already overworked and can't handle the additional strain. If the pain does not decrease with slowing down or persists when not exercising, it would be beneficial to visit a chiropractor for an assessment. Chiropractors are well trained in musculoskeletal conditions and can determine where your pain is likely coming from, as well as provide treatments and therapies that can correct the problem and/or improve the symptoms. Chiropractors use physical treatments and therapies rather than drugs or surgery. Treatments are not painful and usually take 30 mins or less. You can even continue to do a lighter version of your exercise routine while receiving care (in most cases).

Can a chiropractor help me with a pain in the back of my thigh?

When we work out, we are tearing a muscle in order to build more muscle fibers. Often, this is painful or causes soreness, but usually only lasts a few days. Sometimes we damage the muscle tissue a little too much and the pain is more intense, lasting for weeks. This is what is called a muscle strain. The muscle tissue is more severely damaged and takes much longer to heal. Sometimes you hear people use the term muscle sprain or just a sprain/strain injury. These are misnomers, as a sprain in damage to ligaments, which connect bones together, where a strain is a damage to a muscle or tendon, which attaches muscle to bones. With that in mind, the natural history (or average time to heal) for a mild strain injury is 3 to 6 weeks. So, if you do nothing except rest the area, that is what you can expect for healing time. Chiropractors can help to not only speed the healing process but also improve the function of the muscles after the healing occurs. Keep in mind that some Chiropractors don't treat soft tissue injuries and only perform chiropractic adjustments to joints, so you will want to ask if they treat soft tissue injuries before you make your appointment. In my practice, I treat muscle strains in 3 ways: First, I use either Therapeutic Ultrasound or Electrical Muscle Stimulation, with moist heat (or ice if the injury is very acute- 1 week or less). This helps to both relax the muscles, which are often in spasm, as well as reduce the inflammation that builds up in the area. Second, I use a soft tissue technique, such as massage or Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM). This helps to release tension in the muscles, as well as break up fibrous adhesions (where the body builds up fibrous tissue, similar to scar tissue, in the muscles to help prevent further injury) that develop due to the injury and impede the function of the muscle long-term. Finally, I use chiropractic adjustments of the spinal and/ or extremity joints. This improves the structure of the framework to which the muscles are attached and enables them to perform better, with less tension, and without having to compensate for joint restrictions. Most often, these treatments improve the level of pain as well, but if not, there are topical ointments that have an analgesic (pain reducing) effect, which can be applied in the beginning. My patients usually feel 70-80% better in 2-4 treatments and have little to no pain after 6-8 treatments. We have the best results from doing several treatments close together (2-3 times per week) in the beginning. Fewer visits can work, too, but it does take longer to improve.

I have lipoma under my arms. Can a chiropractor help?

Doctors of Chiropractic do not specifically treat lipomas and I don't know of any treatment for a lipoma, other than having it surgically removed. A lipoma is a slow-growing, fatty lump unusually situated between your skin and the underlying muscle. This area is known as the fascial layer or fascia. The lipoma should feel doughy and is usually not tender. When you push on it, it moves readily with light pressure. If you have a bump that is hard, not easily moved, or painful when touched, you should have it examined right away by a competent doctor, as you may have something other than a lipoma. Unlike a cancerous growth, a lipoma isn't normally harmful. They don't usually require treatment, but if the lipoma bothers you, is painful, or is growing quickly, you may want to have it removed. One way in which a chiropractor might be able to help with a lipoma is with a technique some chiropractors use called IASTM (Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization). This is a process that uses metal tools to rub over the skin and the underlying fascia to break up adhesions that form in the fascia. According to Lindsay Kellner, Senior Wellness Editor for www.mindbodygreen.com: "Because it's subdermal, changing the fascia over time through foam rolling, Rolfing, massage, or movement can actually change the way fat distributes under your skin, which is what creates the appearance of cellulite." And Natalie Martos, of www.kinesisphoenix.com, says: "Recent studies have shown that the cause of cellulite may be due to tension of retinacula cutis fibers. These fibers allow for the sliding of superficial and deep fascial layers. If this gets inflamed the fibers can become thickened and restrict motion causing adhesions within fibers. So what does all this mean to you, if the fascia becomes restricted in any way, whether it is from dehydration, adhesions, or inflammation, then ripples in the skin can occur and fat deposits will get stuck in the web fibers of the fascial lining." So, if fascia holds the fat cells under the skin and disruption in the fascia (adhesions) changes the way that fat cells collect under the skin, leading to the appearance of cellulite, then it is possible that a major disruption in the fascia could be responsible for a lipoma forming. If this is true, it should be possible to diminish or dissolve a lipoma by removing the adhesions in the fascia with IASTM or a similar method. I have not tested this in practice as yet, but I believe it would be worth attempting to see if results were obtainable.

Experiencing numbness and pain after elbow fracture treatment.
​​​​​​​Why is this happening?

To really give a good answer, I would need to know more about the fracture and what type of surgical procedure was performed. The elbow is a complex joint involving three different bones. Which one(s) was fractured, in what way, and what was done to repair it? Also, the three main nerves that supply the arm and hand, all pass through the elbow at various locations. Generally, pain, numbness, and tingling sensations are all caused by some type of nerve irritation. It can happen at any point along the nerve, from the nerve ending (like when you get pricked or cut) to the nerve body (like if you have carpel tunnel impingement or hit your "funny bone"), to the nerve root (where the nerve exits the spine, this is what we call radiculopathy). In any case, there are a number of factors that could be affecting your nerves and causing the pain and numbness you are experiencing. These include nerve compression or impingement (something pressing on the nerve), nerve irritation (inflammation or the effects of the surgery), or even neuropathy (damage to the nerve itself). Most likely, the pain and numbness will subside in a few weeks or even months. Depending on the cause of the neuralgia (nerve pain), joint mobilization or soft tissue treatments could help to speed the processes along. If inflammation is the (or one of them) cause(s) of the symptoms, anti-inflammatory medication or treatments (including electronic muscle stimulation and therapeutic ultrasound) could also be useful. Doctors of chiropractic, like myself, treat these types of symptoms frequently. You should consult with the surgeon and your primary care doctor for suggestions and your fracture must have completely healed before attempting any other treatments or procedures.

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